Engineers Week: Meet John!

Name: John DeVol, PE

Engineering Discipline: Civil with municipal focus

Years in the field: 19

Hobbies outside of work: Boating, hunting, family time

When did you know you wanted to be an engineer and what drew you to your specific engineering discipline?
I knew I wanted to be an engineer in high school. My math and science classes were always the most interesting to me. Engineering seemed like a good blend of these fields. I originally enrolled in college as an electrical engineer. It was not until my third year of college that I switched to Civil Engineering. Civil was very attractive to me because I love seeing things get built. Our whole practice is about taking ideas to improve the world around us and ushering them into tangible solutions.

What would most people be surprised to learn about the engineering field?
I think most people do not understand how many different things engineers do. There are so many specialties in engineering – research, design, manufacturing, process improvements, and construction just to name a few. Engineers are everywhere and have been involved in just about everything in the world around you.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at F&V, and why?
I have been involved in so many cool successes for our clients, that are each so important in their own way, it is really hard to choose one. The work we have done in building training facilities at Camp Grayling has been awesome. First, designing military training facilities is pretty cool just because of the uniqueness of the work. Second, the knowledge that we are helping in a small way to contribute to preparing our troops through their training to be prepared for the challenges they will face in their jobs is very rewarding.

How has working at F&V helped shape your life and/or career?
It can be humbling to think about how many lives I have been able to impact in a positive way by helping communities improve their infrastructure. By being involved in providing safe water systems, environmentally sensitive wastewater systems, and even parks and recreational areas, I get a sense of satisfaction whenever we can complete a project.

If you could give your younger self advice about engineering, what would it be?
Learn as much as you can in school. Take that extra class. Learn how to communicate effectively. I often say, a Civil Engineering degree should require a minor in accounting and law because so often, we find ourselves managing large, complex projects that involve much more than traditional engineering skills.

Engineering is a male-dominated society. What advice would you give females interested in engineering / STEM?
Engineering may be male-dominated, but that is changing. Women should not be intimidated by engineering or STEM careers. There are many successful women in our industry and we see more and more every year. When I think about my daughters or nieces, I would suggest that if they have an interest in a technical field, follow your heart. If you don’t know which path to take or have questions, seek out a mentor that can answer your questions and provide some guidance. There are so many opportunities available in STEM fields right now that the time could not be better for women to find a satisfying career.